Louisiana Attorney General Urges LHSAA to Kick Off Football Season
Attorney General Jeff Landry wrote a letter to the LHSAA this week. His message, in short, was to, "turn on the Friday night lights."
This news is should be received well by student-athletes and parents around the state. Sure, there's still no guarantee that the LHSAA will allow high school football to be played this season, but our Attorney General has spoken and he's ready for some football. Aren't we all at least a little ready for some football?
In these COVID-19 times, I would gladly take just about any distraction from the pandemic. That's simply from a football fan's perspective, I truly can't imagine what student-athletes in our state are feeling, especially the seniors.
This week, Jeff Landry penned a letter to the head of the LHSAA, Eddie Bonine, urging him to allow the athletes the chance to compete this season. In his letter, he makes a strong case for allowing high school football to take place this season.
He highlighted the fact that the students are no more likely to catch COVID-19 on the football field than they are in the classrooms and in and around campus. He also states that he was surprised to hear that legality concerns is a major reason this season is at risk. He tells Bonine that a simple adjustment in their waiver language should dispel legal concern. He also offered his services to the LHSAA if they require help on the legal-side.
Below, I've embedded the entire letter sent from Jeff Landry to the LHSAA.
Dear Mr. Bonine,
I want to thank you and the members of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association for your very thoughtful response to the COVID-19 crisis and high school sports. Certainly when this process began several months ago, there was real reason for concern. However, times have changed as has our understanding of this virus. It is time for our decision-making process to change as well.
I was surprised to hear that legal liability concerns are playing a major role in your decision. I think those concerns are unfounded. Today, football operations are ongoing at every college and university in our State. The risks inherent in playing football are constant at all levels of competition, including high school. Yet, statistics from the CDC show that the younger people are, the less likely this coronavirus will negatively affect them – should they become infected at all. If anything, this means high school players are less at risk than college players.
What’s more: there is no evidence to suggest young people are more likely to get this disease on their football fields than they are at their schools or in their neighborhoods. Legally proving where people, who are largely asymptomatic, contract this disease is beyond current scientific methodologies. As our neighboring states move forward with these realities in mind, allowing our students in Louisiana the same opportunity to play the game they love is not an unreasonable act.
I also want to note that participation in high school football is voluntary. As you well know, football can be a hazardous sport with injuries. Those who choose to play it know of these dangers and accept those threats – many because they find the values of the sport far outweigh the risks involved. Every year, parents sign waivers to allow their children to participate. With medical staff and ambulances common sights at football games, these parents are well-aware of the risks; but they are also aware of the accomplishments their children achieve during a hard fought game. A simple adjustment in your waiver language to reflect any COVID-19 risks should ensure parental consent and dispel legal concern. If you need help drafting this, contact my office and we will assist.
Finally, I ask you and all concerned to consider the impact further delay will have on these young student-athletes. My mom always said, “Idle minds and hands are the devil’s workshop.” For so many of our youth, sports is a way out of dire circumstances. Football puts them on a track for success off the field and in life. I can only imagine the number of Louisiana youth who have and will further fall into self-destructive behavior and habits without the outlet of high school football. Depriving these young people of the purpose, discipline, and integrity they develop between the hashes will irreparably damage their lives.
Mr. Bonine, it is time to turn on the Friday Night Lights.